Global Studies sophomore Maddie Marsh always wanted to change the world. She chose to do that through Global Studies in Human Sciences at Auburn University before she even graduated. And last month, she was one of only three students in the world chosen to speak at the Board meeting of The ONE Campaign, an international advocacy group that works to end extreme poverty and preventable disease by 2030.
At the January meeting, Marsh shared her experiences as a student activist with ONE board members, which include: U2 lead singer Bono, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, Black Rhino Group managing director Mimi Alemayehou, ONE co-founder Bobby Shriver and Firefly3 principal Tom Freston.
“After hearing our personal stories, the Board members were so supportive and willing to help us even more, which was so encouraging. It was such a cool environment with so many influential people all in one room, all passionate about the same thing, wanting to help The ONE Campaign and help us,” Marsh said. “Extreme poverty could end by my lifetime, and it’s so incredible that that’s something I could see to the end.”
ONE Campaign CEO Gayle Smith said Marsh was a perfect candidate to share her experiences with the Board.
“More and more, young activists are starting conversations about how we address the key issues of our time. Not only is Maddie Marsh starting the conversations, she is taking action to urge our elected officials to fight poverty and preventable disease around the world,” said ONE Campaign CEO Gayle Smith. “It was inspiring to see her passion and hear how she is rallying her peers at Auburn to join her in advocating for the world’s poorest. It’s this fierce advocacy that has allowed ONE to be successful and pass legislation that fights AIDS, gets young girls in school and lifts people out of poverty.”
Day-to-day, Marsh collects letters to legislators and meets with those representatives to urge them to pass legislation with a global impact. She’s also spread the word about the Campaign’s important work to end extreme poverty at major music festivals including Bonnaroo in Manchester, Tn., and Rockweave in LaGrange, Ga.
Marsh first learned of The ONE Campaign’s work when Scoggins Berg, ONE Campaign southeast regional organizing manager, spoke in her Introduction to Global Studies class. Berg said work with The ONE Campaign trains students how to apply what they learn in class and effectively enact change.
“With Global Studies students here at Auburn, they are already positioning themselves to want to help, and you present this opportunity where you can live in anywhere, USA, but your voice matters and it counts, I think that’s really empowering,” Berg said. “Maddie is brilliant, passionate, has spent time abroad, she’s seen extreme poverty up close and she didn’t have to wait until graduation to make a change, so all of that wrapped together made her a perfect candidate to share her story with the Board.”
In the Global Studies in Human Sciences program, students are taught global issues and practical ways in which to work toward solutions. Global Education Director Kate Thornton said Maddie exemplifies the knowledge, confidence and dedication the program provides.
“Maddie reflects the lessons taught in GSHS in that when a ONE representative spoke to her class and inspired her, she took action,” Thornton said. “After the class, the representative offered for students to become involved and Maddie took the initiative to go to meetings, help start a campus chapter and get her peers involved.”
Growing up, Marsh participated in mission trips to Bolivian orphanages with her church. She said that’s where her passion for changing the world began, and eventually led her to Global Studies and The ONE Campaign.
“I fell in love with being in another culture and helping those kids, but every time I came back to the U.S., I was kind of sad and almost angry because I wanted to do more, so I asked myself if there was anything I could do from here,” Marsh said. “The mission of ONE, ending extreme poverty and preventable disease, is so powerful to me because that’s what I’m passionate about. And this is it. This is what I can do domestically, day-by-day to help people.”
In addition to her work with ONE, Marsh is a manager for the Auburn Gymnastics team, a CBS Sports College Ambassador and will complete an internship with Speedo this summer. She said her work with ONE is a top priority.
“I’ve always felt very passionate about this, and meeting the Board really just solidified how important this really is,” Marsh said. “Rather than it being a side activity, I’m focusing on this and I can see myself continuing to do this even after college. All of this started because I had a guest speaker in my Global Studies class, and now, this has been something that’s completely changed my life.”
To learn more about The ONE Campaign, go to one.org . For more information on the Auburn University Global Studies program, visit here.